Rhubarb and custard scones

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These are the days that matter, the quiet days that so easily get lost in the clamour of ambitions and disappointments, big plans and minor heartbreaks.

Days that start with a hug, and amble past waffles and puns about waffles and planting up daisies and watering blueberries. Days when the humdrum’s a pleasure and there’s time to sit at the kitchen table, painting pictures of dogs and flowers and bumblebees with someone whose hands still have dimples and whose hair smells of sun.

There have been other days when time has felt so relentlessly monochrome and straight-line-real that I’ve wished I could fold it in two like paper and go back to the start: do one thing, anything, just different enough to change the unchangeable – days when I’ve felt furious with grief that I can’t do the single, simple thing of building my own time machine.

And then there are honey, mellow days when time gathers, clusters and disperses like swallows. Days when the bright green of the grass shouts from the trees’ deep shadows and blackbirds trill unseen in the clear blue sky on a late afternoon forest walk. Days when it’s clear that this warm hour is exactly the same one I’ve walked through hundreds of times before and the leaves of the slender, keen birches are the same ones that thousands of other people have watched move slowly through the same warm air; days when it’s clear that time isn’t solid and linear, but something that hangs poised above and behind and beyond us, and walks hand in hand with us in circles.

So if you’re thinking of the best day of your life, don’t think of the weddings and births, the parties and promotions, think of a sunny day when you folded washing, made scones and were solemnly presented with a painting of an orange dog to keep by your bed.

Makes about 16

2-4 sticks of rhubarb (I used four, but they were splindly ones from the garden)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 tablespoons of water

2 tablespooons of custard powder

Enough plain flour that, added to the custard powder, makes 500g (about 460g)

75g cold butter

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

150ml Greek yoghurt, 150ml whole milk (I don’t ever have normal plain yoghurt in the house as I find it too runny – or too soupy, as Bert would say. If you do, use 200ml yoghurt to 100ml of milk)

1 egg, beaten

Heat the oven to 200. Cut the rhubarb up into pieces about 1cm long (they’ll be the raisins in your scones, so don’t make the pieces too big), put the pieces in a roasting tray, sprinkle over the sugar and water, cover with foil and cook for around 10 minutes. Keep the oven on after you take them out.

Meanwhile weigh out the custard powder and flour to a combined total of 500g (two tablespoons of custard powder first, then add the flour till it weighs 500g). Cut the butter into very small pieces and then ‘crumb’ it – rub it between finger and thumb if you like, but I believe scones don’t like to be touched by human hand till they come out of the oven, so I cut the butter into tiny pieces with a knife, then put the flour and butter in the food mixer till it’s crumbed. Add the bicarb.

Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and add the pieces to the mixing bowl with the yoghurt and milk mix. Mix briefly, till it’s just forming a dough.

Flour a surface and quickly press the dough down onto it. Don’t use a rolling pin, just gently press it out with your fingers till it’s about 4cm thick. Cut out circles with a small cutter – I use a champagne flute, not because I always have a glass of champagne to hand (maybe one day), but because it’s the right size to make a scone that’s taller than it is wide – i.e. correct.

Put on a baking tray, quickly brush with beaten egg and into the oven for about 12 minutes, till golden.

 

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Roast rhubarb puree


Another attempt to bring fresh fruit and veg back into Bert’s life. Bert refused to eat it – I went away, stirred half a teaspoon of strawberry jam in and he declared it ‘very nice’.

We just spent two weeks at a friends house on an island off the coast of France, stopping for the night on the way at a chateau with a pool, swings, a trampoline, and bunk beds behind a hidden door. The highlight of Bert’s holiday? ‘The iPad’.

Serves 2

80g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces

40g golden caster sugar

30g butter

Roast at 180/ gas mark 4 for 10-15 minutes, till softened, then puree and stir through Greek yoghurt, custard or whipped cream.

Rhubarb, orange and hazelnut crumble

crumble

Serves just me 2 – 2.5

3 sticks rhubarb

1 orange

4 dessert spoons golden castor sugar

50g butter

85g plain flour

50g golden castor sugar

50g roast, chopped hazelnuts

Cut the rhubarb into chunks and add to a pan with a few peelings of orange rind (use a vegetable peeler), followed by the juice of the orange and the four dessert spoons of sugar. Simmer till the rhubarb is soft.

Throw the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and pulse till breadcrumby then stir the hazelnuts through.

Pour the fruit mush into an ovenproof dish, top with the crumble and cook at 180 or the middle of an Aga roasting oven for 30 minutes. You probably don’t need this much topping, but I think the topping’s the best bit.

Perfect for a baby who’s spent the day having rides on a ride-on lawnmower, digging in the garden till his tiny fingernails are black and going mountain-climbing up the wooden attic stairs to find treasure*.

*bouncy balls and lego men